Climate Change Action Plan

You can download it as a pdf here

Here’s the text
MCFLy’s BLUFFER’S GUIDE TO THE CLIMATE CHANGE ACTION PLAN

What does the Plan say?
The plan is about 50 pages long and can be viewed at http://www.manchesterclimate.com
It commits Manchester (all of us, not just the City Council) to two headline goals:
1)To reduce the city of Manchester’s emissions of C02 by 41% by 2020, from 2005 levels;
2) To engage all individuals, neighbourhoods and organisations in Manchester in a process of cultural change that embeds ‘low-carbon thinking’ into the lifestyles and operations of the city.
There are actions laid out under 5 headings – living, working, moving, growing and adapting

Who wrote it?
The action plan was written between July and October 2009 by Manchester City Council members and officers in conjunction with over one hundred ‘stakeholders’ – businesses, academics, activists etc.

How did they write it?
It was an unusual process for the Council to go through. Normally policy is not written with quite the level of input from those outside the walls of Castle Grayskull (also known as ‘Manchester Town Hall’). Various writing groups were formed on Buildings, Energy, Transport, Green and Blue Spaces and Sustainable Consumption. Their work was then stitched together and the whole thing polished up in the usual way.

Why did they write it?
Different motives! The Council sees climate change as both threat and opportunity. Places that want to be ‘World Cities’ have to be seen to be “doing their bit”. And there may be loads of money to be made in ‘low carbon technologies’. Other writers are just desperately terrified about how unprepared we all are for the changes that are coming.

Some words you won’t find in the Plan
Permaculture, Transition towns, Peak Oil, Meat, Vegetarianism, Vegan, Democracy, Consumerism, Consultation, Catastrophe, Emergency, Equity, Fairness, Descent (as in energy descent), Inequality, Poverty, Minorities, Privilege, Rationing, Contraction and Convergence, Deprivation, Resilience, Solidarity. “Dialogue” gets one mention, in connection with the Council and … business!

Climate Impacts for Manchester
Climate change will have effects on the climate of North West England. Below are the future climate change projections for the 2050s in North West England, based on medium emissions. Changes for the 2050s under the medium emissions scenario indicate the following temperature projections:

* WARMER WINTERS: The central estimate of increase in winter mean temperature is 1.9ºC
* WARMER SUMMERS: The central estimate of increase in summer mean temperature is 2.6ºC
* WETTER WINTERS: The central estimate of change in winter mean precipitation is 13%
* DRIER SUMMERS: The central estimate of change in summer mean precipitation is –18%

for more information see http://www.ecocitiesproject.org.uk (the source for the above text!)

What the plan doesn’t say

There are six big gaps and silences in the plan:
Economic Growth
The idea that economic growth can continue indefinitely is simply not challenged in the plan. This is no surprise – you don’t ask a goldfish for an analysis of water, because to the goldfish it’s just, well, there.
But infinite growth on a finite planet is impossible, regardless of the carbon dioxide emissions that it currently causes. For more on this, come to the Thursday 21st October meeting “Growing Pains”, at the Friends Meeting House. http://www.growingpainsmanchester.wordpress.com.
The Airport
Because there is not yet an agreement about how international aviation emissions will be shared out between countries, the owners of Manchester Airport (i.e. Manchester City Council) have simply ignored the problem. That will not be, erm, sustainable, in the long term.
Food
One of the easy ways people can reduce their food’s carbon footprint is to reduce the amount of meat they eat. This idea was deemed too radical to go in the Climate Change Action Plan. A pity.
Peak Oil
Fossil fuels are going to get steadily harder to get hold of (“Deepwater Horizon” – the clue is in the name) and unsteadily and rapidly more expensive. The Climate Change Action Plan does not talk about that.
Changing the Plan
Last year the buzzword was ‘iterative’, meaning that the Plan would be updated as and when required. All year various people have been asking the Council how and when this would happen. There’s been evasion, kicking the topic into the long grass and the suggestion that post–it notes on a wall equals ‘iterative’. But we are none the wiser about how the Plan can be strengthened, and its gaps plugged.
Scrutiny
The only obvious scrutiny is supposed to take place at Annual Stakeholder Conferences. But since the invite list for this seems to be only for those who have endorsed the plan, there is an obvious problem right there. The existing ‘scrutiny’ mechanisms are entirely inadequate.


Who is working to make the plan better?

A loose affiliation of activists from Manchester Friends of the Earth, SNAG, Green Party, Call to Real Action and others too feral to mention are banging their heads against that particular wall. If you email calltorealaction@googlemail.com you’ll be pointed in the direction of a group that suits your temperament.

More information
A series of youtube videos with snappy titles like “Manchester City Council in 4 and a half minutes” and “Manchester’s Climate (in)action” can be watched, free, at
http://www.youtube.com/user/manchesterclimatefor
There’s also – until mid-November – http://www.manchesterclimatefortnightly.info

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